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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 02:33 GMT
Koreas restart talks
North Korean soldiers
The North is uneasy about hightened security in the South
By Caroline Gluck in Seoul

Ministerial talks between North and South Korea resumed on Friday in the remote North Korean resort of Diamond Mountain.

The four-day meeting is aimed at reviving exchanges that were suspended last month in the wake of the 11 September suicide attacks in the United States.


Many in the South have criticised the government for making too many concessions to the North with very little gained in return

North Korea had postponed planned reunions for families separated by the two Koreas' history of hostility, citing unease at heightened security in the South following the attacks in New York and Washington.

South Korea is also keen to restart tourism and economic talks.

It plans to reassure the North that its security measures are part of the international response against terror and not aimed at the North.

Unification Minister, Hong Soon Young, said he would like to have a meeting with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, but that it is by no means guaranteed.

Support waning

He has also indicated that the South will make food aid to the North conditional on the resumption of reunions between separated families.

But even the venue of the talks has been hotly disputed.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il: Will he head south?
Seoul had wanted the meeting to be held in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, but the North had insisted that all future talks should take place at the mountain resort

However, the meeting takes place as public confidence in South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's policy of engagement with the North is at an all-time low.

Soon after the historic summit more than a year ago, polls showed that about 80% of the population supported the policy.

Today, the figure is less than 20%.

Many in the South have criticised the government for making too many concessions to the North with very little gained in return.

President Kim Dae Jung, with little more than a year left in office, has insisted there is no turning back on the policy.

But unless there is a major breakthrough - including a return visit to the South by Kim Jong-il - it is a policy which is becoming much harder to sell.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Gluck
"South Korean officials are still analysing the North Korean broadcasts"
See also:

12 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea postpones family reunions
18 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koreas agree to family reunions
04 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
China steps into Korean debate
06 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
S Korea calls for new summit
08 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Seoul's fears over Bush
08 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Bush rules out North Korea talks
22 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea threatens end to missile deal
13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Dae-jung: Korean peacemaker
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